I want to ask this question, but I'm not sure which preposition to use:

Are you new to/at/in school?

If a student asks this question to a new teacher, which preposition sound better?

  • 2
    Welcome to English Language SE. Can you please provide more details to your question such as context and what you have found so far? – Wrzlprmft Oct 6 '15 at 11:54

Idiomatically, you'd say

Are you new to/at/in this school?

Specifying "this" removes all ambiguity about what "school" means, which I think is where your question really lies. Using "this" means you can use any of the prepositions you list to get at the same meaning.

Otherwise (and this is mostly opinion), I'd assume

Are you new to school?

meant the student in question had never been to school before, i.e., home-schooled to public school.

Are you new at/in school?

would mean the student is new to this school, but suggesting the student is a mid-year transfer or transferred over the summer. In this case, "at" favors the former and "in" the latter (again, my opinion), but they are still interchangeable.


Well either of the preposition 'in' or 'to' should sound correct when addressing someone who has recently joined school.

In would actually be to a more particular situation and To would be considered as generic.

But in no case would 'at' as a preposition be used here.

Hope it helps and if there are any Questions feel free to comment :)

  • Why the down vote? Care to explain. – rohit raina Oct 6 '15 at 11:24
  • Mine is because it's easy to find dozens of written instances of, for example, He's new at school, which doesn't sound "off" to me at all. – FumbleFingers Oct 6 '15 at 11:37
  • @FumbleFingers Does that make sense here? – rohit raina Oct 6 '15 at 11:41
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    I'd be wary of claiming any particular choice of preposition "makes sense" - it's often just a matter of established idiomatic preference. In most cases, He's new to X actually means This is the first time he's encountered X, so the default reading of the I'm new to school is probably I've never been to [any] school before, but pragmatically that's probably not the issue for OP's context (where the question is whether the addressee is newly-enrolled at/in this particular school). – FumbleFingers Oct 6 '15 at 12:15

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